Olympic champion Thomas Rohler and world champion Johannes Vetter have faced off against each other almost on a weekly basis in 2017 and the head-to-head between the two global champions and domestic rivals is poised at six competitions apiece heading into tomorrow night’s Zurich Diamond League.
“We have ruled the javelin for nearly three years,” said Rohler at the pre-competition press conference. “It’s fun for us and it’s fun to get better and it’s really helping that we are a big team in Germany at a high level. We push each other and by doing that, we are raising the level inside the country and get more of an advantage at an international level.”
One of the most anticipated head-to-heads in tomorrow night's Zurich Diamond League and at next year's European Championships in Berlin! pic.twitter.com/MTwDmg5Mno
— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) August 23, 2017
Rohler opened his season with a massive throw of 93.90m in the Doha Diamond League - second only to Jan Zelezny’s world record on the world lists. Most observers would have predicted that mark would remain ensconced at the top of the season’s lists - unless Rohler could improve it himself - but a little over two months later, his domestic rival produced a magnificent series of throws on a cool and damp evening in Lucerne, the best of the six landing beyond Rohler’s world-lead and German record at 94.44m.
“It was an incredible competition. It’s difficult to find words,” said Vetter, whose lifetime best before the competition stood at 89.68m. “I was in really good shape and it was only two days after German Championships and I felt it in the warm up. I had one 89m throw and one 90m throw in warm up - I have to throw a little bit further in warm up for the self-confidence.
“One of my goals this season was to catch the 90m mark and the crowd was crazy as well - so everything came together and it was why I threw that far in Luzern.”
And after Zurich tomorrow night, it is off to Berlin on Sunday for the ISTAF where they will go head-to-head on home soil a year before they will captivate the crowds again when the Olympiastadion stages the European Championships - an event they are both already looking forward to.
“The crowd is always really important for us; it’s more fun to compete if there is someone behind you, understanding the sport,” said Rohler. “That really propels every athlete - it can be noisy but if there is some rhythm, it helps you.”
Vetter added: “Everyone saw the amazing crowd in London last week and I think it’s a little bit more special in Berlin as a German so I think we will be really excited and we are looking forward to compete there.
“We can’t forget there are a lot of other javelin throwers in Germany - at first, I have to qualify and I’m pretty sure I will - but the key point is to stay healthy and we will rock the European Championships as well.”